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Why Wellness Works: Breakthroughs and Pathways to Whole Health will feature speakers from across the country who will discuss the positive impact of health and wellness programs in their communities.

Mental Health America is pleased to announce that Geoffrey Canada, President & CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York, will be the keynote presenter on Friday, June 7, 2013, David Granirer, counselor, comic and founder of Stand Up for Mental Health will share his story during the Clifford Beers Awards dinner on Friday, June 7, 2013, and James O. Prochaska, Director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center and Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Rhode Island will be keynote presenter on Saturday, June 8. 

Click here for a full list of speaker, facilitator, and author biographies.


GEOFFREY CANADA, President & CEO, Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey CanadaGeoffrey Canada grew up in New York City where he experienced the challenges of growing up poor. His thirst for knowledge and success in academics enabled him to receive bachelor degrees in psychology and sociology and graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a master's degree. After serving on the faculty of the Robert White School, an alternative high school for troubled youth in Boston, Massachusetts, Canada returned to Harlem in 1983 to help the children in the neighborhood where he grew up. In 1990, Canada was appointed president of Rheedlen. He expanded the center and renamed it the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ). The 97-block complex began offering tutoring, recreational programs and community outreach. Social workers also provided drug counseling, parenting advice and basic life skills to the community. By 1997, Harlem Children's Zone had 11 sites throughout Manhattan. In addition, Canada began national initiatives to positively impact the lives of African-American children. In 2009, President Barack Obama announced plans to replicate the HCZ model in 20 other cities across the nation.

Canada has written several books, including Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America (1995) and Reaching Up For Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America (1998). Along with being featured in several print publications, including TIME Magazine and the U.S. News and World Report, Canada has made a number of television appearances, including 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and the Colbert Report.

At Mental Health America's 2013 Annual Conference, Mr. Canada will share his experience with models for reform that combine educational, social and medical services for youth from birth through college.

Geoffrey Canada will present during the Keynote Luncheon on Friday, June 7, 2013 at 12:45pm

Biographical Source: Geoffrey Canada. (2012). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 10:36, Nov 29, 2012, from http://www.biography.com/people/geoffrey-canada-537578

DAVID GRANIRER, Counselor, Stand-up Comic and Author

David GranirerMr. Granirer is the founder of Stand Up For Mental Health, a program teaching stand-up comedy to people with mental illnesses as a way of building confidence and fighting public stigma. He is also the author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success. His work has been featured in Voice Award winning documentary Cracking Up, and he has received the Life Unlimited Award from the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and the Champion of Mental Health Award, a national award recognizing individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the mental health agenda in Canada.

David Granirer will present during the Clifford Beers Awards dinner on Friday, June 7, 2013 at 7:30pm


R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE, Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President

Photo of Gil KerlikowskeAs Director of National Drug Control Policy, R. Gil Kerlikowske coordinates all aspects of Federal drug control programs and implementation of the President's National Drug Control Strategy. Mr. Kerlikowske brings 37 years of law enforcement and drug policy experience to the position. He previously served nine years as the Chief of Police for Seattle, Washington. When he left, crime was at its lowest point in 40 years. Previously, he was Deputy Director for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, where he was responsible for over 6 billion dollars in Federal assets. Mr. Kerlikowske was also Police Commissioner of Buffalo, New York. He was elected twice to be President of the Major Cities Chiefs, which is comprised of the largest city and county law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, and was also elected President of the Police Executive Research Forum. He has received numerous awards and recognition for leadership, innovation and community service, including the American Medical Association's Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service in 2011.

Mr. Gil Kerlikowske will present during the Opening Plenary on Friday, June 7, 2013 at 8:30am

DR. JAMES PROCHASKA, Director, Cancer Prevention Research Center

Photo of James ProchaskaDr. James O. Prochaska is Director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center and Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Rhode Island. He is the author of over 350 publications, including three books, Changing for Good, Systems of Psychotherapy and The Transtheoretical Approach. He is internationally recognized for his work as a developer of the stage model of behavior change. He is the principal investigator on over $70 million dollars in research grants for the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. He is the founder of Pro-Change Behavior Systems. Dr. Prochaska has won numerous awards including the Top Five Most Cited Authors in Psychology from the American Psychology Society; an Innovator's Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is the first psychologist to win a Medal of Honor for Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society.

At Mental Health America's 2013 Annual Conference, Dr. Prochaska will discuss significant breakthroughs that are being achieved in producing changes to enhance whole health within specific populations.

Dr. James Prochaska will present during the Morning Keynote on Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 9:00am

PAOLO del VECCHIO, MSW, Director, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Photo of Paolo del VecchioA self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor and person in recovery from addictions, Mr. del Vecchio has been involved in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate and policy maker for more than 40 years. He graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Temple University, has published widely, and is a highly sought after national and international speaker. He has been a leader in many federal efforts, including the Mental Health Statistics Improvement Project Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, the Federal Advisory Planning Board for the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, and the Health and Human Services Multiple Chronic Conditions and Community Living Initiatives. Mr. del Vecchio supports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s effort to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Mr. Paolo del Vecchio will present during the Opening Plenary on Friday, June 7, 2013 at 8:30am